SpiritFarmer


July 30, 2004, 11:33 am
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On Wednesday evening I got to hang out for a while with none other than My Valentine, er, The Living Home-boy, Jason Evans. It’s been a couple of months since I saw him, and even longer since we had a good sit down talk. He and Brooke and their kids have been in a housing transition for several weeks now, but very soon they’ll be able to move into their new place in San Diego. I’m really stoked for them to be able to move into this new phase of life and ministry.

I’ve been working like a dog this week – mostly outside in 90+ degree heat. I’ve gotten a lot done, but I am tired. I watched bits and pieces of the Democratic National Convention, mainly to observe the pop-culture side of it. I’m pretty sure that all the news media could save some money and re-air their tapes of this instead of sending out their crews to New York for the Republican convention. Same fluff. If I hear another speech talking about someone being a “uniter, not a divider” I may just have to shoot myself. All the political analyst types seem very impressed with John Kerry’s speech last night – I must have missed something.

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July 27, 2004, 6:47 am
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Some thoughts on longevity . . .

Michelle and I started obedience training school over this past weekend.  We took the new puppy too.  It was tiring and challenging, but informative and helpful.  When we went home to work on our homework, I found a newspaper article in the manual we were supposed to read.  It talked about the instructor who is teaching our class.  It said that he’s been doing dog training for over 25 years.  O.k., cool, pretty impressive.  But it also said the guy is 79 years old.  Not bad.  He’s on the doorstep of 80, and teaching these classes several times each week, not to mention breeding and training his own dogs.  I’ll be stoked to be actively doing what I love at that age.

What really struck me about the guy, though, is not how old he is.  It’s how old he was when he started this gig.  A 25 year career is pretty good . . . but he started in his mid-50’s.  That’s still 20 years off for me.  Both of my parents have completed their Master’s degrees – both after the age of 50.  Again, 20 years off for me.

And while I’m reminded that I don’t have any guarantees I’ll make it to my 50’s, it does give me some hope.  For as hard as this church planting thing has been, and for all the times I’ve felt like a failure, it’s o.k.  Even if I completely got this stuff wrong, and I’m supposed to be in another place doing something different with my life, there’s still time to adjust and trust and grow.  There’s still time to blunder and have fun and figure out how to glorify God creatively.  There’s still time to make today count.



July 23, 2004, 9:42 am
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A nice take on preaching . . . from Beyond:

The converted, the congregation, united by certain beliefs, share amongst themselves bewilderment, despair, hope needing amplification, confusion needing examination and elucidation, and avenues of interesting and productive inquiry. Lockstep congregations are a sure sign of a moribund faith, of the absence of anything Divine. A good preacher rattles her congregants’ smugness and complacency, and congregants to do the same for the preacher. Good preachers are exhilarating to listen to, and the converted have a lot to think about. So this “preaching to the converted” question doesn’t address all religious practice, or all theater — just crummy religion and inept theater.

 

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July 22, 2004, 8:50 pm
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Mr. Todd Hunter is blogging once again.  I’m hoping he makes good on his promise to be more consistent.  He’s one of my favorite teachers.  I find value in almost anything he has to say.



July 19, 2004, 2:59 pm
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And life goes on . . . Michelle’s folks are rebuilding after the fire. Posted by Hello



July 19, 2004, 10:05 am
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Yesterday I went to the worship gathering of a fairly new church not too terribly far from where I live.  I met the pastor about a year ago, so I go check in with him every so often.  The church is what many would call postmodern or alternative.  I’m not sure what I’d call it, so I’ll just stick to “church.”  Whatever they are, they’ve grown to over 1,000 in worship attendance in about two years time.  I realize that there’s a healthy discussion going on about whether churches of 1,000+ (or even 500, 200, 50, 25) are a good thing or not – I’ll leave that one alone for now.

 

The thing that I had rattling around in my head, though, was a discussion that Jordon Cooper raised on his blog a couple weeks ago.  It goes something like this: in the “emerging church”, we’ve got all these heady notions of all the things that we’re changing.  But when you step back and really evaluate things, are we really changing more than about 10%?  In the case of this new church, I can honestly say “absolutely not.” 

 

Here’s what I noticed.  I drive into the parking lot of a big industrial type building, park my truck and walk toward the entrance.  Between my truck and the seat I select inside the meeting space, I am greeted by about five people – all of which are obviously “assigned” to stand in a spot and say hello to people as they come in.  One of these people hands me some paper, with announcements and church information on it.  I sit down, and the band leader on stage begins to play and sing and invite people to sing along.  We sing three or four songs together – all but one I’ve heard before in other churches over the past five years.  Then the pastor gets up on stage and tells everyone to say hello to the people around them.  We sit down, read scripture, listen to people talk about what God is doing in their lives, pray again, and are dismissed.

 

Now, let me say that I enjoyed my time with this body of the Church.  Cool people, relaxed atmosphere, music that I relate to (played by a dude with dreadlocks). 

 

But then I remembered what I had seen on the church website earlier in the day, when I had gone to find out what their service times were.  On one of the pages, it told their story as a church.  It says something like, “In those early days, we reconsidered what it means to be a church.  It wouldn’t have been unusual to hear questions like, ‘Why do we have music in church?’ or ‘Why do we gather for a worship service?'”  I happen to know that there are some very intelligent, genuine people who love God, and want to be sensitive to the Spirit there.

 

So my question for them would be, “Why is it that after all this questioning and consideration did it turn out that your church looks almost exactly like the vast majority of other churches in the area?”  Go back and read the paragraph describing my experience and tell me if there’s anything different.  Did the process of considering the aspects of church life bring you to the conclusion that most churches have gotten it right?

 

Some questions I have:

1. Is there an actual need for change from the “traditional” church to the “emerging” church?

2. If so, how much of the formula needs to change?

3. What is the proper motivation for change?

4. What would actual change look like?

5. What are the measures that might help us evaluate whether anything substantial has changed or not?

 

I’m sure there are other questions.  For the most part, I think that what we have come to think of as “revolutionary” or “adventurous” or “innovative” is actually not all that impressive.  I think we like to think of ourselves as having done something different mostly as a mind trip – “Oooh, lookie here at the cool stuff we’re doing.  We’re breaking the ‘rules’ and being dangerous.”  We need to get over ourselves.  Seems to me that we’re looking for praise from other people, by developing all these pseudo-new things.  Let’s be open to change, but when we do change, let’s do it to improve our worship of the only One deserving of it.  Let’s have fun and be crazy and get jiggy before our God, but only because we are interested in increasing His glory in our joy.



July 17, 2004, 8:07 am
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Praying for Rudy C. and his family right now.  His son has been diagnosed with leukemia.  He’s got a blog set up for updates.  Just about the time I start feeling sorry for myself . . .